The base camp wasn’t much to be impressed with, it being a bare bones operation. My tent was more luxurious than the cave they had set up camp in, and warmer too. The wind constantly blew in through the western opening, strong enough to put out any fires they might light. It left them dependent on heat lamps, the lanterns functioning both as light and as a warming device.
Blankets were spread out on the hard, stone floor. Two men currently kneeled on them, though one look at me had them both scrambling to their feet. They immediately reached for the hand blasters at their sides, though they never got to use them. Romelle had purposefully stepped in front of me in order to shield me from their shots.
Sven didn’t like this, his body stiffening with his displeasure. But he didn’t try to antagonize the two humans any further, gesturing at them to lower their weapons. They looked confused at that, the one with the curly brown hair casting a nervous look at Romelle.
“It’s all right.” Romelle assured him. “He’s a friend.”
“Hmph.” A snort from Sven, the man walking over to where several crates lay stacked against the wall. On top of one was a portable computer, small but bulky to accommodate the large battery it ran on. Even at that size they would have to limit it’s use. The battery simply wouldn’t last indefinitely. Nor could they risk bringing a portable energy generator with them. It would have put out too much power, and brought the military to investigate the source of that energy.
“A friend?” The two humans were dressed in tunics that were fashioned in the style so common of planet Pollux. The tunics didn’t look very warm, leaving the arms exposed.
“But princess….” The blonde’s eyes narrowed in hate. “He’s a Drule!”
“I know that.” Romelle retorted. “But this is Sabbath. He helped me while I was a prisoner of Lotor’s.”
“Ah…” That didn’t completely put them at ease, but the curly haired one lowered his weapon.
“Sabbath…this is Malkom.” Romelle made introductions, nodding at the brown haired man. “And this is Dealian.” The blonde scowled at me, his eyes full of mistrust. That was fine with me. I hadn’t done anything to earn any of these men’s trust or friendship.
“Why is he here?” Dealian wanted to know.
“Well, we couldn’t exactly let him run around free, now could we?” Sven asked, his blaster set aside so that he could fiddle with the computer’s settings.
“You should have killed him then!” Dealian snapped. “A Drule poses too big a risk. Both to the princess and the operation!”
“Am I any more of a risk than letting your princess wander the planet alone and unarmed?” I was snide which only earned me more anger from the blonde.
“Sabbath, we’ve been over that…” Romelle sounded chiding. As we had journey to the base camp, Romelle had explained how she, along with Sven and the men from Pollux, had each gone out to survey the land. She had been given what had been deemed the safest task, Romelle intent to see if there was any soldiers in the area. She wasn’t supposed to come near to them, but somehow she had been sighted and caught.
Sven hadn’t been pleased with allowing Romelle to go roaming about the planet. But seeing as man power was limited to just these four, he felt hadn’t had a choice in the matter.
“Yes, I know.” I said out loud, my eyes still on Dealian. “And it makes me wonder how foolish you all are. Coming here with so little man power…”
“A smaller group is better for sneaking around.” Sven answered for her. “The more people we bring, the greater the risk of being caught.”
I could agree with that much, though I still couldn’t abide the fact they had brought Romelle with them. “Do you people even know what you’re doing?”
“Of course we do!” Malkom insisted, placing a hand on Dealian’s shoulder. The blonde looked like he was barely restraining himself. “We’re being led by the best, a real Garrison soldier.”
“Sven hand picked Malkom and Dealian for this mission.” Added Romelle. “They more than met his requirements.” I had a feeling I was supposed to be impressed by that. I merely shrugged instead, expression dismissive.
“Is he to be our prisoner then?” Dealian wanted to know.
“Of course not!” Romelle retorted. “He’s our ally…”
“Pardon me princess….but do you honestly believe you can trust a Drule?” This was Malkom who asked that.
Romelle seemed to fidget, at a loss for words. “It’s Sabbath.” She finally said, as if that would settle it. The two men looked unconvinced, and I wondered how much they knew about my history with Romelle. If they knew exactly what had gone down, then they weren’t impressed with my involvement in it.
“Trust in your princess if not the Drule.” Sven said. He I had no doubts about. I was sure he knew all that had gone down on Doom, with me, with Romelle, and with Lotor. The fact that Romelle had trusted him enough to tell him the whole story didn’t exactly sit well with me. I didn’t like the closeness that implied, once again feeling sick with jealousy.
“Fine.” Malkom sighed. Dealian still looked like he had plenty to say, gritting his teeth as he fought to remain quiet.
“Malkom, Dealian, did you discover anything on your missions?” Romelle was clearly trying to ease us into a new topic, and though Dealian continued to glare, it worked more or less.
“Ah yes!” Malkom didn’t brighten though. If anything he looked even more upset than he had when I had first walked into the cave. “I’ve got some data for you….Zarkon’s planning to launch an army of robeasts, numbering five hundred in all.”
“Five hundred?!” Romelle stepped back, a hand over her mouth as she gasped. “How can he get so many?!”
“They’ve been bringing in off worlders by the thousands.” I said. “It’s been going on all week, dozens upon dozens of ships arriving daily with new aliens to fight in the coliseum. Those that do well, are then taken for augmentation, and stored away in one of many fortresses located over Doom.”
“We need to destroy that army before he can unleash them…” Dealian said.
“Dealian no!” Romelle protested. “They are people, just like you and me….just like Avok was…what’s worse, they didn’t ask to become robeasts….they are innocent…”
“And just like Avok, they have no chance of ever being restored back to their true selves!” Dealian pointed out. “They’re all but mindless once transformed. They’ll only know the need for violence….they’re already lost…”
“It’s true.” I said. “There’s no hope for those that have been transformed. We have to focus on saving the galaxy…even at the expense of these once innocent people…”
“Hmph.” Dealian snorted, not impressed with what I had said.
“You have something to say?” I demanded, resting one hand on the blaster holstered on my belt.
“Just never thought I’d hear a Drule talk about saving the galaxy.” He replied. “Not sure I believe those words coming out your mouth.”
“Doesn’t matter what you believe. It won’t change the truth.” That was Sven. “We have to warn Arus of this. That will be the first planet Zarkon targets with his new army.”
“Voltron can handle it…right…” Malkom was anxious. “I mean they defeated Prince Avok, and he was supposed to be the best robeast ever…”
“There’s more though…” Romelle was clearly struggling with what had been said. “Sabbath tells me they are going to make these robeasts into some kind of super powered beings…a kind of robeast that has never before been seen. And with five hundred of them attacking at once…even Voltron will have problems…”
“We have to stop them before they can transform the robeasts even further.” Sven said.
“And how will we do that?” asked Malkom. But no one knew for sure.
“There’s a satellite….yes?” Sven asked me. I nodded.
“But I don’t know where it’s located…”
“We’ll find out.” Sven said confidently. “One way or another we will stop them in their tracks.”
“How? By attacking the fortresses?” I asked. I snorted when Malkom and Dealian nodded. “There’s too many, and they’re too far out. Even if you were able to gather enough explosives to say blow one up, the others would quickly go on high alert at the loss of one. At best, you’ll cause a minor set back in Zarkon’s plans.”
“Then what do you suggest?” demanded Dealian.
I couldn’t really offer them much, shrugging. “I don’t know…if we knew where that satellite was, we could blow up the facility on it….”
“Well, we don’t know…” But Sven interrupted Dealian.
“That’s not a bad idea.” Sven was nodding. “If we could somehow get there…we could take out the robeasts and the facility with one big explosion…”
“Do we even have enough explosives to do that?” Romelle wondered. Everyone looked at the crates, but by the dejected look on their faces I hazard the answer was no.
“I’ve got some supplies…” I said. “I’ve been stealing bomb making materials from the Drules for a while now…”
“How convenient…” muttered Dealian. “And you’re just going to let us use the things you happened to steal against your own people?”
“You won’t be attacking Drule innocents…” I began, ignoring Dealian’s rude laughter. “It will be the Empire you strike against. An Empire I’ve turned my back on.”
“And it’s that easy for you?” Dealian asked. I paused, thinking it over. Once it would have been an impossible thought, the idea of aligning myself with terrorists against my own Empire. But that had been before Romelle, before I had stopped and taken a good look at what the Doom Empire was doing. Not just to Romelle, but to people like her, and to the worlds the Empire had captured.
“I know now what the Empire does is wrong. What I’ve done while in their employ was wrong. I’m willing–NEED to make amends now.”
“Is that why you stole things?” Romelle asked, having turned to look at me. “To make amends?”
“It was a start…” I said, sighing. “I don’t think I made much of a difference yet. I was merely inconveniencing the Empire. But I thought…”
“Thought what?” She gently prodded when I fell silent.
“It doesn’t really matter…”
“It does to me.” Romelle insisted.
“I guess I was building my way up to something bigger.” I let out a hoarse chuckle, but it held no humor to it. “I wanted to do something that would be worthy of you…something that would make up for my past, and let me make a better future…maybe it’s destiny that led us to meet each other again. Maybe it was just chance. I don’t know. What I do know is I have the things needed to help you make a difference. To help you stop Zarkon’s latest scheme…”
“Admirable words.” Sven said. “If you’re that willing to help us, I won’t refuse. Where is your explosives?”
I’ve got them hidden near to Kesodonia.” I answered. My new home in Druruga was simply too far from the castle, and too conspicuous a place to keep the stolen explosives. I had settled on hiding them in an abandoned mine located about ten miles from the city, Kesodonia. “All I have to do is go get them….”
“You’re not going to let him go alone, are you?!” Dealian and Malkom were both alarmed.
“Of course not!” A grim smile from Sven. “I don’t trust the Drule as far as I could throw him.” Which wouldn’t be that far. “But we do need those explosives…”
“I’m going with him of course.” Sven answered the blonde man’s question.
“Let me go instead!” protested Dealian. “You’re too needed for this mission…”
“Nonsense.” Sven retorted. “You two would kill each other within seconds of leaving this camp. Don’t argue.” Added Sven as Dealian’s eyes smoldered with anger. “You know I’m right…”
“What are we to do in the meantime?” Romelle asked, drawing our attention to her. “Continue our spying?”
“No…you are to remain here.” I approved of what Sven was saying. “You had too close a call with those soldiers. And this time Sabbath won’t be around to save you from horny Drule bastards.”
“Horny Drule bastards?” repeated Malkom. His next question made Romelle flush. “Princess, what happened?”
“It’s nothing.” She insisted, not meeting anyone’s eyes. “Sabbath killed them before they could do anything to me…”
“What were they trying to do?” Malkom received a sharp elbow to the stomach from Dealian. His eyes widened with understanding. “Ah…”
“We should have never allowed you to come here!” Dealian added. Romelle turned even redder.
“It wasn’t up to you!” She snapped. “And if I wasn’t here, Sven and Sabbath would have most likely killed each other.”
Sven and I looked at each other, but said nothing. I had a feeling we both thought ourselves a more skilled fighter than the other. It made me curious as to who had the better training, a Garrison soldier, or a Drule. But I wasn’t going to find out the answer to that question, not any time soon at least.
“We better contact Arus.” Continued Romelle. “We need to prepare them for what’s happening on Doom. On the off chance we fail to put an end to Zarkon’s army…”
“You really think warning them will make a difference?” I asked. She shrugged.
“I don’t know…but maybe they could have time to mount a suitable defense….”
“Voltron is the only defense they have that works against a robeast.” I pointed out. “What little battle ships they have, all have failed miserably against Doom’s.”
“And you would know, wouldn’t you, Sabbath.” Dealian mocked. I looked at him, watching as he grew bolder. “How many attacks have you fought in? How many fleets have you commanded?”
“My hands are dirty, it’s true.” I didn’t sigh, and I didn’t blink. My gaze was level with his. “And it’s because of my past experience that I know what Arus is and isn’t capable of….”
“We will warn them all the same.” Decided Sven, returning to the computer. Pretending to ignore the way Dealian tensed up, I walked past to peer over Sven’s shoulders.
“You have an encoded signal right?” I asked him. I didn’t want to risk the transmission being intercepted by Doom. The Drules would then be able to follow the signal to it’s point of origin, and discover the base camp.
“Of course.” Sven nodded. “And we have a range on this computer that can reach as far as Arus. But our battery power is limited, so I reckon this will be our one and only call….”
“At least from this computer.” He glanced at me, eyebrows raised. “Explosives aren’t the only resource I can offer you….”
“So I see….” He murmured, fingers tapping in the number code that would transmit his message to Arus. It was a voice only message, the computer too under powered to handle more than that. “Castle Control this is Sven.”
“Sven, this is Castle Control, Coran speaking.”
“Coran, I’ll make this brief.” Sven got right to the point. “Gather the Voltron Force. King Zarkon is assembling an army of robeasts. Super powered ones at that. They will number in the hundreds, and all too soon they will be sent to Arus.”
“What?! No!” Coran gasped.
“Our only hope is to find the satellite where the transformation facility is located.” Sven continued. “I intend to find that place, and blow it up. Please have the Voltron Force on standby to aide me.”
“Of course.” Coran had managed to compose himself. “Arus will lend you any and all assistance that you need.”
“Thank you Coran. Wish me luck. I’m going to need it…” At that, Sven ended the transmission. “Well….they know now…”
“Not that it will do them any good…” muttered Dealian, ignoring Romelle’s order for him to be quiet. “If we can’t find this satellite, the galaxy is finished….”
“Don’t talk like that!” Snapped Romelle. “A defeatist attitude will only slow us down…”
“I’m sorry your highness…” murmured Dealian.
“I want you to stay here…” Sven began. “That means you princess. Malkom can continue to do reconnaissance. But don’t put yourself at any risk. If you think you are to be caught, you leave immediately even if you’ve found out nothing….”
“But I…I can help!” insisted Romelle.
“The best thing you can do is to remain here.” Sven told her. “I can’t be worrying about you too. Not at this time….and I doubt the Drule wants to either.” She flushed again, looking hurt. “Well, Drule? Shall we go now?”
“It’s Sabbath, not Drule.” I told him. Sven shrugged, as though that wasn’t an important distinction. I sighed and nodded, watching as he retrieved his hand blaster. Romelle reached to grab my hand, giving it a squeeze.
“Be safe.” She said. “Both of you.” She turned to look at Sven.
“We will manage.” Sven told her. Malkom actually stepped forward to hold Romelle back as she tried to follow us out of the cave. I’d cast one last look behind me, feeling uncertain about leaving her behind. I doubted Malkom and Dealian, thinking they wouldn’t be able to protect Romelle as well as Sven or I could.
“Come on.” Sven’s voice from behind me. “Staring at her won’t get the mission accomplished any sooner.”
“Right.” I took the lead, trusting Sven not to shoot me in the back. He was surprised, asking me why I could show my back to him. “Because.” I answered with a grim smile. “If you kill me now, you’ll never get your hands on those explosives you need.”
“A good point.” Sven agreed. “I’ll just have to shoot you later.” His tone was such I couldn’t tell if he was serious or joking. Unease prickled along my skin.
“Try not to get yourself killed human. These parts are dangerous, especially now…”
“Yes, there are Drules about…”
“I meant the robeast.” I retorted.
“Those mindless creatures can’t do anywhere as much damage as a Drule can.” Sven snapped.
“I think you’re wrong on that…..”
“Oh, robeasts can kill people and destroy whole cities…but it’s nothing compared to the pain and misery, the emotional turmoil you Drule cause.” I couldn’t really agrue with that, just letting out a displeased growl as we walked. “I know about you.” Sven continued.
“Oh? What do you know?”
“You were there when she was in trouble…” Sven wasn’t finished, nor did he sound impressed. “You couldn’t do anything to save her. You didn’t even try in the begginning…”
My shoulders sagged, knowing he spoke true. “I was indecisive at first, yes.” I agreed. “I was torn between loyalties.”
“Loyalties…” Sven scoffed. “If you had any real feeling for her, you would have acted a lot sooner…you would have helped her get off of Doom.”
“You think you know what happened…”
“I do.” Insisted Sven.
“You don’t. You’re making judgments based on only one side of the story.” I snapped.
“Romelle’s is the only side I’m interested in.” Sven answered. “It doesn’t matter how many beatings you endured, how many demotions you received. In the end, you did nothing of consequence. You let her be the prince’s plaything….you even let him throw her away like she was nothing more than trash….she was very lucky to survive all this…”
“Don’t you think I know how lucky she is?!” I turned to face him. “Don’t you think it tortures me every day that I did not act sooner? That I wasn’t the one to save her from Doom. From Lotor’s twistedness?!”
He stared at me a moment, studying my expression. “You may be torn up inside, or you may be putting on a good act. I can’t say for sure.” Sven shrugged. “Anymore than I can be sure of your abandonment of the Empire. Maybe they kicked you out…maybe you’re looking for a way back in. But Romelle won’t be that way. I’ll kill you before I let you or anyone else hurt her.”
“I’d kill myself before I hurt her.” I retorted, the same anger and anguish still on my face.
“I almost think you mean that.” Sven said, and shook his head. “You’re a convincing actor…”
“It’s no act.” I growled.
“Yeah, right. Whatever Drule. Just be warned. I’m watching you. I may not be as quick to kill as Dealian is, but if you try to betray us, you can bet I’ll put a laser in your head.” Sven waved with his hand blaster for me to continue forward.
“We’re wasting time…” Sven pointed out. “And I’ve no interest in anything you have to say.” I growled lowly, but accepted that I would just be wasting my breath on him. He wasn’t ready to trust me, might never be. What’s worse, I couldn’t blame him for his mistrust. I’d lead him to my hidden cache of explosives, and hope that somehow along the way, Sven would come to grudgingly acceptance of both my help and presence. I wasn’t intending to go anywhere, not so long as Romelle remained on Doom.